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Friday, 27 April 2012 08:14
Two tragic cases in the past week have highlighted the need for defibrillators and CPR training in schools to stop young people dying from sudden cardiac arrest. But with 270 children dying at school each year, what can you do to help?
A 7 year-old boy, Ciaran Geddes, collapsed whilst playing football in Warrington last Tuesday. Ciaran had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and later died at Warrington General Hospital. Ciaran's family released a statement saying: "Ciaran was our young, rising star, he shined brightly in our lives. He was taken from us too soon but will never be far from our thoughts and dreams. His football was everything to him, and his beloved Chester FC. His smile was infectious and it is how we will remember him."
Tributes also came from Chester FC where captain George Horan arranged for his team to wear "RIP Ciaran" t-shirts ahead of their Saturday match against Marine. Horan had led Ciaran out on to the pitch when he acted as a mascot for the club last year and he said that the news had hit the players hard.
In Kent, 14 year-old Nicky Payne was playing rounders in a school PE lesson when she also suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and collapsed. She was taken to William Harvey Hospital in nearby Ashford but doctors could not revive her. Pupils at Angley School, Cranbrook, are being offered counselling after the event. Head teacher Debbie Coslett said: "Nicky played a full part in the life of the school and was the first to volunteer for any activity. She especially loved taking part in school shows. It will take time for all those who knew her to come to terms with what has happened."
Sadly, these cases are not one-off occurrences. 12 people under the age of 35 suffer a sudden cardiac arrest each week in the UK and the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest is only 6%. What's even more shocking is how unpredictably and devastatingly it can strike; 80% of cases are in people who had no previously diagnosed heart conditions and the chance of surviving decreases 10% every minute that goes by without treatment.
However, having a defibrillator and someone trained in CPR nearby can mean the chance of surviving shoots up to 74%! As Fabrice Muamba showed recently, immediate treatment can mean you survive the incident and make a very good recovery!
There is also a lack of understanding about sudden cardiac arrest. Comments on the Daily Mail report of Nicky's death make references to diet, junk food, exercise and hormones. The truth is that there is almost no way of knowing who might suffer a sudden cardiac arrest without introducing an expensive regime of cardiac screening for young people, and even then heart problems will not definitely be detected.
The fantastic news is that more people are beginning to understand the danger of sudden cardiac arrest and are taken action to prevent deaths. The Oliver King Foundation, set up in memory of 12 year-old Oliver King who died last year, is doing a great job spreading the message, but there are ways you can help out too!
So, what can you do?